FT: 1SL Attacks Nimrod Cuts

FT.com / UK / Politics & policy - Navy chief attacks Nimrod cuts

Navy chief attacks Nimrod cuts

By Alex Barker, Political Correspondent

Published: November 9 2010 20:20 | Last updated: November 9 2010 20:20

The head of the Royal Navy has admitted he is “very uncomfortable” with the government’s plans to axe the intelligence and surveillance aircraft that protect Britain’s fleet of nuclear-armed submarines.

Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope’s frank concerns over the dangers of scrapping the Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft are the first public criticisms of the defence review by a service chief.

Speaking at a defence conference on Tuesday, Sir Mark said: “I am very uncomfortable at losing Nimrod. I am happy to say that publicly.”

Sir Mark also defended the need for round-the-clock deterrence, as it did not make sense to move to irregular submarine patrols or operate more closely with France.

His fears are understood to be shared widely within the Ministry of Defence.

However, the Nimrod MR4 aircraft programme had run badly over budget and had been delayed by more than eight years, making it an obvious target for cost savings.

Liam Fox, defence secretary, has said the decision was “extremely difficult” and required Britain taking a “calculated risk” with its surveillance capabilities. He starkly laid out these risks in a leaked letter to the prime minister during the strategic defence review.

“Deletion of the Nimrod MR4 will limit our ability to deploy maritime forces rapidly into high-threat areas, increase the risk to the deterrent, compromise maritime CT [counter terrorism], remove long-range search and rescue and delete one element of our Falklands reinforcement plan,” Mr Fox wrote.

Labour attacked the move as one element of the “shabby political fix” over Trident. “This underlines the risks that David Cameron is taking with Britain’s nuclear deterrent,” said John Woodcock, MP for Barrow and Furness.

The Ministry of Defence said ministers and service chiefs had acknowledged the decision was “difficult” but that the severe financial pressures forced the department “to prioritise those capabilities that we could maintain”. “We will continue to undertake joint maritime patrol activities with our allies and will utilise a range of other military assets to ensure the integrity of UK waters,” the spokesperson added.

“Operating on a less than continuous basis makes it vulnerable – it means a potential future aggressor might judge that we were not able to respond to a pre-emptive attack,” it said.
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This is absolutely horrific if true. £4bn's worth of unique kit that's critical for safeguarding our nuclear deterrent, performing long range Search & Rescue and a dozen other important functions. Whose woeful ignorance, nor to mention criminal negligence, is responsible for this stupidity?
Daily Telegraph 20 Jan 2011 said:
The Government has been accused of “gross vandalism” after industrial cutters have been moved onto an airfield to begin chopping up nearly £4 billion worth of the world’s most advanced reconnaissance aircraft.

On Monday private contractors hired by the Ministry of Defence will take chop off the wings of the first of nine Nimrod MRA4 aircraft. To avoid government embarrassment each £400 million aircraft will be draped in tarpaulin and dragged to a remote corner of an airfield where they will be “brutally” dismantled.

Politicians and defence workers have accused the Government of acting too swiftly as the implications to national security have not been fully understood.

The termination of Nimrod was a surprise announcement in last October’s Strategic Defence and Security Review and the MoD is insistent their destruction will go ahead...
I remain astounded that the Govt has permitted the MOD to give up the Nimrod MPA. As an island nation with vital martime interests both at home around the British Isles and the oceans of the world, giving up the only military MPA with apprarently no plans for a follow-on in the future makes no sense whatsover to me. More sea blindness perhaps?
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If you want to appreciate the full scale of this lunacy, you might find this interesting from about here; Nimrod MRA.4 - Page 68 - PPRuNe Forums . Leaving aside all the crayoning and the professional Britain Knockers (like iRaven), there's a lot of knowledgeable stuff. I think you'll find that this machine was assassinated at a much higher level than the MoD.
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I do sometimes wonder how the MOD procurement managed to make such a [email protected]@k up of buying in the Nimrod and how the costs have spiralled to such an amount. I suppose it is MOD procurement all over really it seems to take an age, cost a fortune and 50% of the time it either doesn't work, not fit for purpose or out dated.

You are leaving out 2 significant factors.

The programme has clearly had interference with its Budget "profile". The origins there are not in the contract but with the Treasury and the subsequent hoops the MoD beancounters have to jump through.

The aeroplane shares the same name and airworthiness pack as the machine that became a fireball over the 'Stan. The subsequent "get nimrod" (and I don't mean buy it) campaign waged by various interested/agrieved parties has done the MK4 programme no good at all.
"This is the BBC News" Britains Long range reconnaissance and Maritime Patrols Service formerly undertaken by the RAF and Royal Navy has been contracted out. Somalia is understood to have been awarded the contract" Mr Cameron stated that in these days of austerity and belt tightning it makes enconomical. sense. In addition Mr Cameron has now solved the long term power generation for this country and has awarded the nuclear power plant production to Iran. It is understood that Iran will also remove the spent Uranium at no cost to the UK.

The announcements were made from from Netley, former Naval Psychiatric Hospital which has been converted into a weekend retreat for parliamentarians.


Lantern Swinger
Why has it taken 2 months (and it being "just too late" as the aircraft are actually being destroyed) for a reaction to the cuts ?

This is merely a PR ploy so that in his memoirs he can say he opposed the plans.

The Service chiefs who agreed the cuts (although I am sure they did it reluctantly) should have made a fuss and, if necessary, resigned. But their pensions were more important to them than their services and the country's defence.

How can you respect chiefs who sell their responsibilities for a comfortable retirement ?



War Hero
Book Reviewer
We've been round this buoy before. When Admiral Luce resigned it made not a jot of difference, the water just closed over the top.
Why has it taken 2 months (and it being "just too late" as the aircraft are actually being destroyed) for a reaction to the cuts ?
A fair point. Perhaps he too was kept in the dark about the desrtruction programme. I think that's the bit that caught everyone who understands the aeroplane by surprise.

The Service chiefs who agreed the cuts (although I am sure they did it reluctantly) should have made a fuss and, if necessary, resigned. But their pensions were more important to them
I don't recall anyone losing their pension for resigning. It would have lost him some time credit and perhaps delayed its payment, though. It would be a strange state of affairs (well it is anyway) if 1SL resigned over an Air asset. He would really have needed Air Marshal Steve to have thrown the towel in with him.

We don't know what threats are made to the Services and their organisation, do we? Call me Dave strikes me as being an equally nasty and vindictive turd as Blare.
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